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More Translations from the Chinese, by Arthur Waley, [1919], at

p. 53


(Written during his retirement in 812)

My house is poor; those that I love have left me;
My body is sick; I cannot join the feast.
There is not a living soul before my eyes
As I lie alone locked in my cottage room.
My broken lamp burns with a feeble flame;
My tattered curtains are crooked and do not meet.
"Tsek, tsek" on the door-step and window-sill
Again I hear the new snow fall.
As I grow older, gradually I sleep less;
I wake at midnight and sit up straight in bed.
If I had not learned the "art of sitting and forgetting," 1
How could I bear this utter loneliness?
Stiff and stark my body cleaves to the earth;
Unimpeded my soul yields to Change. 2
So has it been for four hateful years,
Through one thousand and three hundred nights!


53:1 Yen Hui told Confucius that he had acquired the "art of sitting and forgetting." Asked what that meant, Yen Hui replied, "I have learnt to discard my body and obliterate my intelligence; to abandon matter and be impervious to sense-perception. By this method I become one with the All-Pervading."—Chuang Tzŭ, chap. vi.

53:2 "Change" is the principle of endless mutation which governs the Universe.

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